Alitalia: Art for art’s sake; money for God’s sake

If you needed any reminder that airlines are operating in a different world now, look no further than the recent auction of paintings and artwork collected by Alitalia in the 1950s and 1960s at Rome’s Finarte Casa d’Aste auction house. The collection, comprising around 200 pieces, was hung in its lounges and VIP facilities to illustrate Italian art. The auction raised €1.2 million. The sad sign of the times, of course, is that the proceeds are being used by Augusto Fantozi, administrator of the old Alitalia (the bits that were left behind after the CAI Italian investor group acquired prime assets to relaunch the operation earlier this year), to help pay the former operation’s creditors. It might just be me, but I can’t help thinking €1.2 million worth of pictures does kind of give a clue about why the airline struggled to make any money in the first place.


5 Responses to Alitalia: Art for art’s sake; money for God’s sake

  1. Kim Shephard 1 January, 2010 at 11:39 pm #

    Yes .. regretablly, I think it might just be you, Graham.

    Would you make the same ‘last-sentence’ comment about Qantas, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France or a myriad of American carriers ?

    Investing in art over the years has been the provence of many, if not most, airlines. That Alitalia has amassed Euro 1.2 million worth of artworks is ‘low-hanging’ fruit for a relatively ‘cheap’ shot. And in the final up-shot, 1.2 million is a fairly paltry amount in the overall scheme of airline operations. Could Alitalia have made better choices ? Perhaps.

    Cast your mind back some 15 years ago when the trend for many international airlines was to acquire and promote hotel chains. Many carriers were ‘burnt’ doing this ~ and the resultant ‘sales’ and divestments garnered more than 1.2 million, whilst ensuring far greater losses. I guess those self-same carriers could have made better choices also ? So to me, your comment on Alitalia and it’s modest art collection seems somewhat churlish.

    Think also of all those carriers that unsuccessfully started up LCC sub-carriers, to see them subsequently fold as ‘expensive experiments’ ? The parallels are infinitely similar, don’t you think ?

    We all tend to live and learn, I guess.

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  3. Agustin Phenix 10 February, 2010 at 11:19 pm #

    I tend to agree with him, but do not feel I have enough experience to speak clearly on this dicussion. I hope to hear further discussion on this going forward.

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